5 Favorite Products from Overland Expo 2017

May. 26, 2017 By Seth Parks
The Overland Expo has evolved since its debut in 2008. It moved 100 miles northeast from Prescott, Arizona, to Flagstaff and ballooned in size. There is no doubt it is the Mecca for North American overlanders. Shaded by mature Ponderosa pines, rooftop tents, and over-sized expedition rigs, hundreds of vendors and thousands of outdoor enthusiasts mingled at Ft. Tuthill County Park this year. Traditional off-road vendors such as Off Road Warehouse, Poison Spyder, and Smittybilt now mix with overland counter-culture brands like Aluminess, Sportsmobile, and Turtleback. 

There were hundreds of notable brands, products, and services on display. If you were unable to get there to check them out for yourself, here are some of our favorites.

FJ Company
There is nothing new about restoring and restomoding classic off-road rigs. Numerous companies convert Defenders, Land Cruisers, Broncos, and other iconic products into high-quality creations to match your taste. But the FJ Company is doing it with an exciting twist. They offer a frame-off FJ40/43 restoration with a rebuilt 4.2L 2F V6 engine, front disc brakes, and soft top for $55,000. Although a 135 horsepower classic may not make a great daily driver, its reasonable price should give some consumers a reason to consider their options. The fit and finish of the three rigs they brought to the Expo suggested great care is taken with these builds. And you can see one for yourself at one of their facilities in Aspen, Dallas, or Miami. Alternatively, you can check out their excellent online configurator. I’ll take mine in Medium Blue with a hardtop, fuel injection, 31” ATs, and Corbeau high-back buckets ($67,600). www.fj.co

American Safari Wrangler Extension
Have you ever thought your Wrangler Unlimited was just a little too small? American Safari has a unique answer – add 15 inches to the body behind the rear wheels. It sounds like a lot but their beta rig looks well proportioned. In fact, even with the body extension the Wrangler’s overall length is 12 inches less than a double cab short bed Tacoma. We like the concept, though we recommend the frame rails be lengthened under the stretched body to protect what will become the off-road weakness of this lengthened rig, its departure angle. The company has not yet announced pricing, though they indicated an installed target of $15,000 for the body extension, pop-top roof, and color match. DIY packages will be offered at a reduced price. You can visit American Safari in Amarillo, Texas, or at Overland Expo East in late September. https://www.redriverrigs.com/

MetalTech4x4 GX 470 Front Bumper
Toyotas have long been a popular choice among overlanders. But Toyota has never imported the body-on-frame Land Cruiser Prado to the United States. It did however import its cousins, the Lexus GX 470 and GX 460. These right-sized rigs are slightly smaller than an LR4, come with V8 power, a two-speed transfer case, and Torsen center locking differential. They were introduced in 2002, which means many are now retiring from mall crawling duty. MetalTech4x4 is one of the few domestic manufacturers producing aftermarket bumpers and rock sliders for these capable rigs. Their front winch bumper for the 2003 to 2009 GX 470 is particularly unique. It is thoughtfully designed to reduce weight, work with the OEM front crumple zones, and be easily repairable. Most importantly, it requires no cutting to install, all while accommodating a pair of stout recovery points, improving approach angle, and accommodating as much winch as one dare put in a 4,900 lb rig. The powder coated stage 3 bumper with integrated lighting comes in under $2,000. http://www.metaltech4x4.com/

Wilco Off Road Tiregate
For anybody who has had their pickup stuck in a muddy or otherwise compromising situation, then lost a tire, you know the madness of accessing an OEM under-bed spare. Yet mounting a spare tire in-bed robs it of valuable space and mounting it up high negatively impacts driving dynamics. That leaves a couple options. An SUV style rear rack or Wilco Off Road’s Tiregate RaceRunner. The RaceRunner is a hybrid style mount that centers the spare over a replacement tailgate that swings-out. The Racerunner avoids the rakish mounting angle or hang-me-out-the-back looks of a full prerunner mount. I had not seen a product like the RaceRunner before, so I asked Luke Wronski, GM at Wilco, how long it has been available. “Almost a decade,” he told me. Wilco has a utility patent on this product, which means other manufacturers may not offer a similar product without paying a royalty. There have been no takers, so if you like this unique, well built spare tire mount and replacement tailgate priced at $1,100, call Wilco. https://www.wilcooffroad.com/

And the Value Award goes to Tailgater. This inexpensive, compact, clever tool creates a stable flat space anywhere you have a stationary, vertically oriented tire. It fits tires 14 to 37 inches, so use it on your side-by-side, crossover, or rock crawler. No tools required and everything you need folds and tucks away into a thin 23x29x1.5 inch package. Use it for anything you want, so long as it does not weight more than 50 lbs. It’s now available on Amazon for $139.95. Unfortunately, it is a new product so Amazon has not yet generated any user reviews. But it looks reasonably well made. I may need try one out.

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